Edison Robotics Review

TeacherCast "Best In Class"Are you searching for that perfect application that is going to transform the way you prepare for class each and every week?  There is no denying that as we move throughout the 21st century, the importance of teaching with video has increased. As devices have gotten smaller and the push for learning beyond the walls of the classroom and hours of traditional instruction have increased teachers constantly look for more diverse and easier ways to not only bring individualized learning to their students in a way that not only is high quality but doesn't require hours of time to create.

It is with great pleasure that with this blog post, we are announcing the Edison robot from Microbric as the recipient of the brand new TeacherCast “Best in Class” Award that will be given out to only the best educational products that meet and exceed our new 15 point educational checklist.  Let us begin share with you why Microbric has earned this distinction.

Who is Microbric?

Edison educational robots are an innovation from Microbric, an Australian company based in South Australia. Microbric has been providing educational robots to schools since 2004.

Edison successfully launched in mid 2014 on crowd funding website Kickstarter by raising over $100,000 in the 30 day campaign.

Edison is the result of a genuine passion for innovation and new creations. Microbric’s vision is to share electronics, robotics and programming with as many people as possible. Our technology is designed to provide users with an opportunity to experiment and have fun, while challenging their knowledge, innovativeness and imagination, without the need for expensive tools.

Our educational robots are clean, safe, reusable, expandable and robust and provide users with a range of combinations, and possibilities.

Links of Interest

What are Edison Robots?

Looking for a low cost, easy to program, multi-platform, backwards compatible, imagination igniting, battery powered wonder machine?  The Edison robot hits the mark for teaching Computer Science in a hands-on way that still fits on the average desktop, and avoids some of the costly shortcomings of other robot platforms.

Product Features

  • Sensors and inputs
  • Obstacle detection: Infrared using 2 IR LEDs (front left and right) and IR receiver module (doubles as IR receiver)
  • Remote control: IR receiver module (38kHz) Edison can learn IR codes from most standard TV/DVD remote controls
  • Infrared data comms: IR receiver module (double as obstacle detection sensor and IR remote receiver)
  • Line tracker: Red LED and phototransistor (doubles as barcode reader and programming port)
  • Light sensors: 2 phototransistors (front left and right)
  • Sound sensor: Piezo transducer (doubles as sounder)
  • Outputs
  • Drive: Differential drive system
  • Infrared data comms: 2 infrared LEDs (double as obstacle detection sensor)
  • Sound: Piezo buzzer (doubles as sound sensor)
  • Lights: 2 red LEDs (Front left and right)
  • Processor
  • Freescale 8-bit MC9S08PA8VLC
  • Power
  • Battery: 4 x AAA (UM 4)

What is the benefit for using/buying this product?

Edison robot is a great first robot for your school, and is the perfect way to make your existing LEGO hardware more accessible for teaching CS to a wider range of students. – @SamPatue

Edison is a great robot of instructing students in computer science and programming as well as STEM. For the first, the computer science end of things, teachers can use the lessons provided.

Edison is a great multi-age robot with a variety of uses and interacts that make it a great match for use in a range of classes and grades, a great addition to any mobile tech cart.

Who is this product intended for?

Edison and Edblocks, its graphical programming language, is targeted at students in grades 3+, and can be used successfully with pre-reading students with the right support.

The robot and the programming platforms are versatile enough to use this robot in a wide variety of cases and contexts.

Price / Financials

These little robots are $50 each when purchased on their own, or as little as $30 a piece when purchased in a multi-pack (10,20, or 30)

What does the product suggest it can do?

The Edison robot can help kids learn problem solving and collaboration skills as well as computer science skills.

What other ways can the product be used?

This robot is a great little innovation engine. The lego compatibility make this robot a useful base to build on quite literally. The wheels of the robot can be removed to diversify how the energy from the motors is being used. This allows the 2 wheel buggy to become the driver for more complex vehicles or even machines.

This robot also believes in the power of collaboration, a bunch of people have already ade really cool projects using multiple Edison robots, like his one where they used 2 robots to create a simple printer.

One of the main lessons contained in the Edison is that power can be applied in a wide range of ways, for example the drivetrain powers a pulley system in this elevator.

How does this product fit into a curriculum?

Schools that have already purchased STEM curriculum for platforms like LEGO, and Littlebits, or who use curriculum for makerspace or robotics will find that Edison drops easily into existing lessons, often making the programming and building easier and more successful.

For schools without a curriculum for robotics/ making and computer science Edison has a good collection of lessons to get kids started.

For schools building new curriculum around NGSS, Edison provides many hands-on opportunities to apply and develop understanding.

Does this product cover any standards?

ISTE Standards for Educators:

Innovative Designer

Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.

Computational Thinker

Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.

Quality of the product (Durability)

Full disclosure, we have not adopted standards for drop, pressure, or water testing these robots. The Edison robot has survived the tackle box and backpack test. I toted it around for a couple weeks and the worst I could do was to lose the cord! When I lost the cord, I contacted customer service and they were super nice and helpful. Edison has a spare parts kit that includes a cord, 2 motors and a bunch of replacement gears.

Honestly, nothing says “Go ahead and open this bad boy up” like the hex key included in the spare parts kit.  Wait a minute, this spare parts kit suggests one more thing about the Edison: it is user serviceable!

The batteries, just standard AAA batteries, so the life of the robot is NOT determined by the battery pack.

What are other products that can do this same type of lesson?

There are several robots on the market that can perform many of the same functions, from the Thymio II to the LEGO family of robots.

Links to additional resources on the product/topic (Prof Development)

What do others say about the product?

Prep Time needed to use the product

It's easy to get started using Edison. After the initial unboxing, the only prep is to add 4 AAA batteries (not included). To support use in the classroom, I would store the programming cable in the battery box (it ships there). This keeps track of the cable and avoids storing batteries in the robot.

Is this product worth purchasing or using with students?

Edison robot is a great first robot for your school, and is the perfect way to make your existing LEGO hardware more accessible for teaching CS to a wider range of students.

From whole class “make it move lessons” to choice-based use in a makerspace or robot workshop, the Edison is a good fit for many needs and contexts.

Final Opinions

This Edison robot is a versatile and educationally affordable robot avoids several of the design pitfalls that make robots a challenge in the classroom while delivering on the functionality needed.

Share Your Story

Are you looking to bring robotics and STEM into your classroom this year? Please take a moment and share your story about how you use Edison or other STEM tools with your students below.